DODOMA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - Mention of the word El Niño sends shivers to several communities in Africa who live in lowland areas. However, these extreme rainfall phenomena are exactly what Dodoma desperately needs to sustain lives of the speedy growing population in Tanzania’s capital city.
A team of local and international scientists from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and University College London (UCL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation including the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board have been studying the Makutapora well-field (the only source of water for Dodoma city) to understand how the groundwater responds to different climatic conditions and human consumption.
“Through our research, we are seeking to understand groundwater resources in Makutapora, the renewability, the sustainability and critically how people use this precious resource,” said Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology at the UCL and the Principal Investigator for a project known as GroFutures.
And after a few years of intensive research, the scientists have discovered that the well-field found in an area mainly characterised by usually seasonal rivers, vegetation such as acacia shrubs, cactus trees, baobab among others that thrive in dryland areas can only be recharged during extreme floods that often destroy agricultural crops and even property.
Dodoma became Tanzania’s capital city in 1974, though the administrative offices remained in Dar Es Salaam. Given a fact that the entire Dodoma region is semi-arid with an average annual rainfall of 550 mm, the current population of about 500,000 residents entirely rely on groundwater from the Makutapora well-field, from which they pump out 61 million litres of water every day, according to government records.
However, since 2016 when President John Pombe Magufuli issued an executive order to relocate all government ministries and institutions as well as diplomatic offices from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the city has become a beehive of activities as people and authorities rush to put in place the right infrastructure to accommodate the expected rise in population.
As a result, the demand for water is expected to rise amid the changing climatic conditions, putting much more pressure on the Makutapora well-field.
“Makutapora is quite a special site, given that it is the longest known groundwater level record in Sub Saharan Africa,” said Prof Taylor. “A study of the well-field over the past 60 years reveals that recharge sustaining the daily pumping of water for use in Dodoma city occurs episodically and depends on heavy seasonal rainfall associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation,” said the professor.
So far, according to the loggers (data registering equipments) installed in several monitoring wells within the Makurapora basin, the water level has been declining since 2016 when positive recharge was recorded following the 2015-16 El Niño rains. The scientists attribute the decline to heavy abstraction of the water for domestic use, but also, they are in the process of finding out if tough climatic conditions, changes and variations could be another factor.
“In the end of the year 2015, we installed river stage gauges to record the amount of water in the streams. Through this, we can monitor an hourly resolution of the river flow and how the water flow is linked to groundwater recharge,” said Dr David Seddon, a research scientist from UCL.
According to Lister Kongola, a retired hydrologist who worked for the government from 1977 to 2012, the demand for water in Dodoma has been rising over the years, from 20 million litres in the 1970s, to 30 million in the 80s and to the current 61 million litres per day at the moment.
“With most government offices now relocating from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the establishment of the University of Dodoma and other institutions of higher learning, health institutions, and emergence of several hotels in the city, the demand is likely going to double in the coming few years.
With the Trans-African Highway from Cape Town to Cairo crossing through Dodoma, it means that the city could soon become an important tourism destination.
Already, President Magufuli has issued 62 land title deeds for construction of diplomatic missions and five others to accredited global organisations to facilitate the shift from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma.
“The ongoing study is a stitch in time,” said Kongola. “Based on the results, the government will be in a position to make informed decisions on whether to keep abstracting water only from Makutapora or find supplementary sources of water to meet the ever growing demand,” he said.
One of the alternative options would be to construct dams and also explore alternative sites with reliable aquifers. The other option is to pump water all the way from Lake Victoria which is over 600 kilometres away from Dodoma.
The good news, however, is that seasons with El Niño kind of rainfall are predictable. “By anticipating these events, we can actually amplify them through some very minimal but strategic engineering intervention that might allow us to actually increase the amount of water replenishment in the well-field,” said Prof Taylor.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A recent study by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) has shown that temperatures in all the drylands had risen in the past 50 years, with devastating impact particularly on cattle and some food crops.
These findings coincided with a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released on the same day showing that the world is off track to meet most food and agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with more than half of local livestock breeds at risk of extinction.
According to the Kenyan study, which was commissioned by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) — through the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), changes in climatic conditions were driving pastoral communities into dire poverty.
“In all the 21 counties, we observed a 25.2 percent decline in cattle population between 1977 and 2016 on average, with Turkana County alone recording a devastating loss of about 60 percent in the same period, and this is directly linked to the increased heat,” said Dr Mohammed Yahya Said, the Lead Investigator and a consulting scientist at the KMT.
These findings correspond with the FAO global report which shows that on average, 60 percent of local livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries that had risk status information. “Specifically, across the world, out of 7155 local livestock breeds, 1940 are considered to be at risk of extinction. Examples include the Fogera cattle from Ethiopia or the Gembrong goat of Bali,” FAO reported.
It notes that this could be even higher as for two thirds of the local livestock breeds, especially in Africa, the Middle and Near East and Asia, there is no data on the animals' risk status.
According to Dr Said, changes in temperatures in Kenya are directly responsible for reduction of cattle population. “Our study found out that five counties have already surpassed the 1.5˚C mark, and such high temperatures are never good particularly for livestock,” he said.
The counties with the highest rise in temperatures include West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties, which have recorded an increase of 1.91° C in the past 50 years, while Turkana and Baringo have both recorded (1.8° C) increase, Laikipia (1.59° C) and Narok (1.75° C) in the same period.
As a result of such occurrences, FAO reports that hunger is on the rise in many countries worldwide. “More than 820 million people are still hungry today,” says the report.
The number of hungry people in the world according to the UN has been on the rise for three years in a row, and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011. In parallel, the percentage of hungry people out of the total population has slightly increased, from 10.6 percent in 2015 to 10.8 percent in 2018.
Further, according to the UN, small-scale food producers - who represent the majority of all farmers in many developing countries - face disproportionate challenges in accessing inputs and services, and as a result, their incomes and productivity are systematically lower compared to larger food producers.
Even more badly, the UN report also warns of "no progress in conserving animal genetic resources and notes that ongoing efforts to preserve these resources appear inadequate". For example, less than one percent of local livestock breeds across the world have enough genetic material stored that would allow the breed to be reconstituted in case of extinction.
However, the conservation of plant genetic material was found to be faring on somewhat better.
At the end of 2018, global holdings of plant genetic materials conserved in gene banks in 99 countries and 17 regional and international centers totaled 5.3 million samples - a nearly three percent increase over the previous year. This is mainly due, however, to the transfer of existing materials to better, indicator-compliant storage facilities, rather than a reflection of newly added diversity collected from the field.
Efforts to secure crop diversity continue to be insufficient, caution the report, particularly for crop wild relatives, wild food plants and neglected and underutilized crop species.
However, according to KMT scientists, there is evidence that the Arabica coffee for example is getting extinct in Kenya and Ethiopia, while the yield from Robusta variety is going to more than double by the year 2050.
“These are very important findings for the country especially now that we are working towards the realization of the ‘Big Four’ development agenda,” said Mwangi Harry Gioche, the Director of Agriculture Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Irrigation during the dissemination of the findings of the Kenyan study.
This tenure transition has been driven by a number of factors including land tenure reforms, and market and demographic changes. Population pressure is also creating more consciousness around land in the ASALs and this is translating into emerging tensions around ownership and use. Options such as integrated land management can help take into account both pastoralists’ needs, as well as emerging forms of more intensified livestock investments by establishing land use zones that allow both free movements of large herds as well as livestock intensification under private land tenure. Land zoning can be facilitated through appropriate enabling policies and spatial planning processes.
Such integrated frameworks should provide security to pastoralists and enable them to negotiate for various financial, livelihood and technological opportunities in light of climatic shocks and changing tenure regimes.
MOMBASA, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Cameroon’s Monique Ntumngia, founder of ‘Green Girls’ a social business, which educates young women from rural communities in the use of renewable energy, is the winner of the 2019 WWF International President’s Youth award.
According to a statement from WWF,The award recognizes young people under the age of 30 helping promote the cause and impact of nature conservation. Nominations are invited annually via WWF offices around the world.
Since its founding in 2015, Green Girls has empowered and trained almost 800 women from 23 communities across Cameroon to generate solar energy and biogas from human waste. As well as her outstanding contribution to promoting sustainable development in the country, the award is a recognition of Monique’s efforts to champion the inclusion of women and girls in the renewable energy sector in Cameroon and Africa.
On receiving the award, Monique said: “It’s been my good fortune that Green Girls has allowed me to combine two of my great passions: sustainable development and female empowerment. Renewable energy is an essential part of any solution if we are to meet both Africa’s future energy needs and the environmental challenges that lie ahead. Today’s youth will be at the forefront of meeting these challenges and women will have a central role to play. Thanks to the tireless work of my team and the boundless enthusiasm of countless young women, we’ve managed to make some significant progress and it’s truly humbling to be recognised for our work.”
Through Green Girls’ work, more than 3,000 households have been provided with biogas, while more than 100 households have had solar installations fitted. In addition to being trained on how to produce biogas, young women are taught how to promote sustainable development and become financially independent. In 2017, Monique was also crowned the winner of the inaugural WWF Africa Youth Award.
“At a time when we are witnessing the devastating loss of nature and biodiversity and imminent breakdown of climate systems, risking the very foundation of human existence, Monique and these amazing women give us hope and show what is possible. Not only is Monique promoting renewable energy that benefits the environment, she is also empowering hundreds of young women across Cameroon. She is a shining light, setting an example and showing us all that development and protecting the environment can go hand in hand,” said Pavan Sukhdev, President, WWF International.
The 2019 WWF International President’s Youth Award was awarded to Monique in Mombasa, Kenya on June 13.
It should be recalled that in 2017 Monique Ntumngia was crowned the winner of the inaugural WWF Africa Youth
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - With ten years of active interest in tree conservation and sustainable forest management, members of the African Forest Forum demonstrated their experience in hands-on plants-man-ship at a tree planting spree to boost the Karura Forest in Nairobi.
The tree planting exercise as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations according to the chair of AFF governing councils was testament to the green finger talents of the members.
“The tree planting segment is the most important aspect of the anniversary. It is a manifest of the mission and objective of the African Forest Forum, and also a demonstration of how the organisation connects with nature and humanity,” says Macarthy Oyobo, Chair of AFF Governing Council.
The Karura Forest where the 10th anniversary celebrations of AFF took place, sits proudly in the outskirts of the city of Nairobi, albeit tucked quietly away just off the hustling and bustling that characterize city life. It is a true forest of all seasons.
Professor Godwin Kowero, executive secretary on AFF that coordinated the celebrations and tree planting exercise , said they wanted to mark the anniversary in a significant way.
“AFF members are lovers of nature and many of us learn lessons of life from nature. This explains why this planting exercise is very significant,” Kowero said.
He noted that trees were an important part of life, the solution pathway to the disturbing water crisis the world over.
“There are conflicts of water resources happening all over the world. Forest has a critical role in the solution to these growing water crisis,” Kowero said in his opening address at the anniversary celebrations.
AFF members from over 35 African countries attending the anniversary celebrations and also taking part at the tree planting exercise hailed the event, noting it was a footprint that will stand the test of time in the history of the now famous Karura forest.
“ The Karura Forest has made history in Kenya and by participating in this exercise we are being part of this history,” says Cameroon born Dr Martin Nganje, forest conservation consultant and member of AFF.
The tree planting exercise was organized according to countries with each group planting at least a tree.
Other highlights at the ceremony included speeches from key partners like the ministry of environment and forest conservation,Kenya, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation,ECOWAS,Swedish Embassy Ethiopia, African Union Commission and management of Karura forest. This was followed by the launching of 8 teaching compendiums developed by AFF to help forest teachers, students, researchers and others better understand the complexities in forest issues.
Singing and cutting of the anniversary cake also galvanized the celebrations.
According to the management of Karura Forest, the reserve is an urban upland, one of the largest gazetted forest in the world fully within city limits. It covers an area of about 1,000 ha (2,500 ac) and today is a a shining example of how country-based corporate social responsibility and individual philanthropy can serve to secure and protect a country’s natural resources.
The forest offers eco-friendly opportunities for Kenyans and visitors to enjoy a leafy green respite from the hustle and bustle of the city to walk, to jog, or simply to sit quietly and experience the serenity of nature in all its diversity.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in partnership with the Friends of Karura Community Forest Association have since embarked on an aggressive programme to secure Nairobi’s key natural resource.
The hundreds of African Forest members visiting the venue were unanimous the forest epitomizes a touristic pearl and gives an intimate feel that makes visitors feel at home.
“It beauty of the Karura forest gives the intimacy and feeling of being at home,” attest Almani Dampha of the Afican Unuion Commission.
With all Karura’s vast and vibrant beauty only a few kilometers from the heart of the city, it remains for Kenyans and visitors to lend their support by visiting the forest!